43 - Positive Discipline Ch. 4 - 6

Post date: May 26, 2016 2:07:56 PM

Counselor Notes 43

December 17, 2015

Positive Discipline Chapters 4 - 6

For this edition of the Counselor Notes, I am going to give some of the highlights of Positive Discipline’s chapters 4 through 6.

Chapter 4: A New Look At Misbehavior

This is one of the longer chapters in the book – and one of the most important. We act in accordance with our perceptions. If we perceive a situation accurately we are more like to react in ways that address a problem rather than make it worse.

Dr. Nelsen breaks children’s problematic behavior down into four mistaken goals with the corresponding mistaken beliefs:

  1. 1. Undue Attention – The mistaken belief: I belong only when I have your attention.

  2. 2. Misguided Power – The mistaken belief: I belong only when I’m the boss, or at least when I don’t let you boss me.

  3. 3. Revenge – The mistaken belief: I don’t belong, but at least I can hurt back.

  4. 4. Assumed Inadequacy – The mistaken belief: It is impossible to belong. I give up.

Dr. Nelsen gives a chart on these mistaken goals, how to identify them, and how to appropriately respond. I have previously provided the chart in Counselor Notes #35 (Goals of Misbehavior). It is posted on my web page which can be accessed from the school’s web site. (Go to http://wes.hcss.org/then under “Parents and Students” select Counselor. Previous issues of the notes are on the right hand side. Click on the small “View More” near the bottom right hand side of the page and then scroll down the page.)

Dr. Nelsen provides a lot more detail in her book and I encourage parents to study it. The approach may sound easy, but it is not so simple to gleam from merely reviewing a chart. (And it is important to accurately perceive the child’s goal!)

Chapter 5: Beware of Logical Consequences

Logical / natural consequences are what logically / naturally happens when adults don’t step in. (EX: You go outside on a cold day without a coat, you get cold. You don’t treat your friends right, they don’t remain your friends.) In this chapter, Dr. Nelsen makes a number of important points:

“… most logical consequences are poorly designed punishments.” (p. 98)

“Some children decide not to repeat the behavior that caused the punishment, but they do so because of fear and intimidation, not because they have adopted principles regarding right and wrong.” (p. 98)

“… adults may think they are winning many discipline battles. However they have inevitably lost the discipline war when children are inspired to get even, avoid detection, or conform out of fear or a sense of worthlessness.” (p. 99)

Dr. Nelsen acknowledges that when uses correctly logical consequences can be effective with children at times. She does advise to be sure it isn’t just punishment in disguise and to avoid the “I told you so” type comments. (She also notes that there are times you can’t use them. An example would be you don’t use natural consequences to teach a child not to play in the street.)

From Dr. Nelsen’s point of view, parents who make the “I told you so” type comments “…actually lessens the learning that can occur from experiencing natural consequences because a child stops processing the experience and focuses on absorbing or defending against the blame, shame, and pain.” (p. 101)

Chapter 6: Focusing on Solutions

“Positive discipline focuses on teaching children what to do because they have been invited to think through the situation and use some basic guidelines, such as respect and helpfulness, to find solutions. They are active participants in the process, not passive (and often resistant) receivers. Children start making better behavior choices because it makes sense to them and because it feels good to be treated with respect and to treat others with respect.” (p. 122)

The theme for focusing on solutions is: What is the problem and what is the solution? Children are excellent problem solvers and have many creative ideas for helpful solutions when adults take time for training and allow many opportunities for them to use their problem-solving skills.” (p. 123)

Dr. Nelsen promotes solutions to issues being: related, respectful, reasonable, and helpful. She cautions against using things that are more harmful than helpful.

Though not a big supporter of using time-out, Dr. Nelsen does advocate for cooling off periods when called for. One does a much better job generating helpful solutions to problems when they are in a frame of mind that can actually think clearly. (A highly frustrated, aggravated or despondent frame of mind is not going to be much use in generating helpful solutions.)

In helping children explore the consequences of their choices, Dr. Nelsen is not one to ask they child “Why?” That is seen as too accusatory and creating defensiveness. Instead she advocates parents be in the proper frame of mind (i.e. not upset), not having an agenda, and using “curiosity questions” to help the child process situations. Some of her suggested curiosity questions are:

· What were you trying to accomplish?

· How do you feel about what happened?

· What do you think caused it to happen?

· What did you learn from this?

· How can you use in the future what you learned?

· What ideas do you have for a solution now?

I do hope parents will consider picking up Dr. Nelsen’s book (or some other parenting book of your choosing). Parenting isn’t easy and just trying to do it (or in some cases, avoid doing it) the way your parents did you may not necessarily be the best approach for these times.

When all these school days are past, your children have “left the nest”, and you get a chance to reflect back on your life, what more important thing will you have done than the proper raising of your child/children? May you look back on your efforts knowing that you did your very best. Dr. Nelsen’s book can help you achieve that.

Those that want to visit Dr. Nelsen’s web page may find it at :http://www.positivediscipline.com/

Doug Muha Ed.S.

School Counselor

Waverly Elementary School


P.S. Disney is about to release “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to an eager public. I look forward to seeing it myself. The reason I bring it up at all is this movie is rated PG-13. For those that may have forgotten, PG-13 means “parents strongly cautioned” against letting elementary school age children see the movie as “some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” Please note that again some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Just because the country is caught up in anticipation of the movie and merchandise from the movie is already all over the store shelves, doesn’t mean that elementary school age children should be seeing it! (And what should we make of those the market things to elementary school age children – or younger – from movies that parents are “strongly cautioned” against letting the child see?)

Who is going to protect the innocence of childhood if not their parents?